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Join us on the biggest adventure in human history.

Sheffield is leading the way in robotics. And we’re looking for partners.

CONTENTS The adventure begins New frontiers Powering industry Driving growth Our pedigree The future Meet the humans


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COVER image: Swarms of robots that imitate insect behaviour are paving the way for robots to perform dangerous tasks in hostile environments. We’re programming the iCub to think and learn like a human, so it can generate memories and develop a sense of self.

The adventure begins The world is standing on the verge of a revolution in robotics. The kind of life-changing innovations we’ve been dreaming about for decades are now only steps away. Sheffield is taking those steps, and we’re looking for partners to join us on the journey. Through responsible, ethical research, we’re pioneering new products and processes that will transform energy, healthcare and manufacturing.

We’re already working with some of the biggest global names in industry. But our vision goes beyond that. We want to give ambitious people a platform to develop their ideas. We want this revolution to benefit everyone, to drive economic growth, to create jobs and improve lives. To achieve that, we also need to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Does that sound like the kind of adventure you want to be a part of?


Sheffield Robotics

New frontiers

The age of academics working in isolation is over. To make amazing things happen, we have to work together in teams that cross traditional boundaries. Our interdisciplinary approach makes us faster, more flexible and better informed. For our partners, that means more possibilities, better quality research and a wider range of applications. Our team is made up of experts from every faculty at the University of Sheffield and colleagues from Sheffield Hallam University. The mix includes artists and designers as well as engineers and scientists.

This extraordinary breadth of expertise allows us to look at every aspect of an idea, from its social and economic implications to its technical feasibility and right through to product development.


When you’re assembling a team like this, you have to think outside the usual parameters. You have to be bold. That’s why Sheffield Robotics is led not by an engineer but by a cognitive neuroscientist. Our research maps the architecture of the human brain to see if we can build robots that work in the same way. We believe this unique focus will enable us to build better robots. Robots that can think and learn to work alongside humans in harmony.

In the near future, every classroom could have a content platform robot like Zeno.


Sheffield Robotics


Powering industry

Sheffield is the beating heart of robotics research in the UK: ambitious, innovative and socially responsible. The work we’re doing here at the Robot Foundry is pushing boundaries and challenging accepted wisdom. The applications are potentially limitless. We’re changing the way the world thinks about everything from agriculture and energy production to healthcare, education and space exploration.

We specialise in field robotics, manufacturing, healthcare, education and entertainment. We recently secured £100k to develop the IntelliTable, an over-bed table with a robot arm that helps patients with mobility problems. We’re also working on a robot companion for people with Alzheimer’s.

Our current projects include: Cyberselves Investigating the implications of immersion in cyber-reality and how these experiences could transform human relationships and culture. Evo-Bots A system of robotic units, building blocks that can harvest energy and organise themselves into larger structures. Green Brain A flying robot with a sophisticated artificial brain that allows it to think, sense and act like a honeybee. Reconfigurable Autonomy Developing reliable and consistent control software for autonomous systems that make decisions without human intervention. REINS (Sheffield Hallam University) A human/robot interface for firefighters in low-visibility conditions, based on the relationship between guide dogs and their owners. ROBO-GUIDE Building trust in assistive robotics with an integrated approach to robot/user interaction, behaviour and safety.

Images clock-wise from top: Modified e-puck robots; autonomous flying vehicles (x2); Dr James Law, Senior Experimental Officer, with ROBO-GUIDE.

WYSIWYD (What You Say is What You Did) A project with partners in Italy, Spain and France to develop human-like social cognition for humanoid robots.


Sheffield Robotics

Driving growth

Our vision is clear. We believe Sheffield can be a world leader in robotics. That’s why we’re building an industry-facing field robotics facility on the new £43m Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP). At the new site, academics will work with companies to develop robots for dangerous work in hostile or unstructured environments. This new facility will provide a climate where SMEs can flourish, creating new job opportunities and training staff. Both the AMP and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing have already attracted the world’s attention. They set a new benchmark for collaborations between universities and industry. Sheffield is the ideal place for a European field robotics centre to rival those in the USA and Australia. And we have the expertise to make it work.


More possibilities Having the AMP and AMRC as neighbours presents exciting possibilities for future collaborations on autonomous manufacturing and nuclear energy solutions. The potential to make new links and start new relationships is enormous. Join us Our partners already include Airbus, BAE Systems and Thales. But smaller business are absolutely integral to our vision for the facility. If you’d like to collaborate with us, get in touch.

Machines like this KUKA robot are changing the face of advanced manufacturing.


Sheffield Robotics


Our pedigree

Research power Sheffield is one of the UK’s powerhouse research universities and a member of the elite Russell Group that includes Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) puts us in the top ten per cent of all UK universities. All the departments that contribute to Sheffield Robotics are excellent. Computer Science and Automatic Control and Systems Engineering are ranked among the UK top five. We use our research power to tackle global challenges and to advance our understanding of what it means to be human. Our way of looking at things attracts the brightest, most ambitious academics from all over the world. And we constantly reinvest in new talent. Proven expertise Our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing set a new standard for collaborations between universities and industry. Sheffield Robotics builds on that success.

Funding track record Our partners also benefit from our habit of winning funding. We’re supported by the UK research councils and the European Union. We have one of the biggest portfolios of publicly-funded robotics research in the UK. Since its inception in 2011, Sheffield Robotics has secured over £20m of public funding. Trusted partners Public and private sector organisations trust our expertise. They include Airbus, BAE Systems, Costain, Eaglemoss Publishing, Network Rail, Rolls-Royce, The Science Museum, Sebastian Conran Associates, Thales and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

“We believe that the University of Sheffield is one of the few universities that really understands the link between research and industrial application.” Sir Roger Bone, President, Boeing UK

Images clock-wise from top: Robotics workshop for children; Tony Prescott talks robotics; a public demonstration; Paro, the pet robot designed to help patients with Alzheimer’s.


Sheffield Robotics

The future

The future is our business. We spend a little time there every day. What we’ve seen makes us optimistic. As work in our brand new labs continues, we’re also leasing a facility on the Advanced Manufacturing Park so we can keep things moving while our plans for a permanent field robotics base take shape. We’ll continue to recruit fresh academic talent from around the world. We’re travelling a lot too, talking to businesses and the public about the things that matter to them. We’re developing robots that could work alongside – and in some cases replace – humans in aerospace, farming, nuclear power and dangerous work such as deep mining and search and rescue. We’re looking at new technologies to help stroke victims and people with spinal injuries. Our thinking around cyberselves and immersive technologies could have profound implications, not just for business but for the way we see ourselves in relation to the world.


The future belongs to everyone. That’s why we approach our work with care and respect, weighing the benefits and the risks. We know that if we proceed with the right mix of ambition, imagination and precision – and with the right partners – there’s every reason to be very excited indeed.

We’re working with European partners, Image local caption museums xxxxxxxxxxxxx and schools to investigate xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx potential uses for robots in education.


Sheffield Robotics

Meet the humans

The Sheffield Robotics executive team Professor Tony Prescott Tony is our director, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a leading authority on living machines.

Professor Sandor Veres Sandor is an engineer specialising in the systems that enable robots to make decisions.

Professor Roger Moore Computer scientist Roger develops models for language processing. He built his first piece of voice-recognition kit in 1972!

Professor Jacques Penders Our deputy director Jacques is an AI expert with a background in mathematics and philosophy.

Professor Paul Chamberlain Paul is director of the Art and Design Research Centre. He’s passionate about human-centered design that empowers people to live better lives.


Five ways to work with us

Consultancy Let us advise you on how to take advantage of the latest developments in robotics. Contract research We use the latest technology to help you develop high quality robotics applications, customised to meet your business needs. Sponsor a researcher You sponsor a postgraduate student to do a PhD on a robotics problem you need solving. Funding may be available, making this a very cost effective way to enhance your R&D.

Academic and industry placements You can invite one of our experts to spend time in your company or embed one of your employees in Sheffield Robotics. Support is available from the University’s Knowledge Transfer Programme. Joint research applications Partner with us and we’ll use our considerable experience to win funding for your projects. This also gives you access to a worldwide network of researchers.



Dr Ana MacIntosh, Manager T: +44 (0)114 222 6659 E: Twitter @ShefRobotics

Sheffield Robotics, Pam Liversidge Building, Sir Frederick Mappin Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 3JD

Brochure designed by Human. Copyright (c) Sheffield Robotics 2015

Sheffield Robotics - Robots Brochure  

A brief description of the work Sheffield Robotics is involved in

Sheffield Robotics - Robots Brochure  

A brief description of the work Sheffield Robotics is involved in